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Winter Rye Old Fashioned

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Last Updated on June 9, 2021 by The Noms

This Rye Old Fashioned is perfect for fall or winter. Great winter spices combine in this warming cocktail!


Rye Old Fashioned being poured into rocks glass from mixing glass


A classic drink, many assume making an Old Fashioned is difficult and takes time, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Jay and I have a love affair with Old Fashioneds, they are easy to make, quick to make and can be easily changed in flavor with just the quick swap of ingredients!


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Rye Old Fashioned being poured into rocks glass from mixing glass


The definition of a cocktail is ‘spirits of any kind, bitters, sugar and water’, so an Old Fashioned actually started its’ life known as a “Whiskey Cocktail.” But, we now know it as an Old Fashioned – even if made with bourbon, whiskey or rye, or even with rum or tequila. An Old Fashioned also has an orange peel and sometimes a Luxardo cherry garnish.


We chose to use a slightly spicy rye in this, as it is a great match for the warmth and spice of the winter spiced simple syrup.  We also thought it stood up well to the Spiced Cocoa Tea Bitters that we used. Plus, we also switched it up with the garnish, and used just a simple stick of cinnamon.


Rye Old Fashioned being poured into rocks glass from mixing glass


The Old Fashioned is up there with other cocktail greats like the Manhattan, Negroni, and Sazerac. Because all of these cocktails are the base of a lot of cocktail changes, too, and they are fun to use as the base of a cocktail to play with. So, enjoy this Winter Spiced Rye Old Fashioned that is a twist on the classic cocktail.


How to make an Old Fashioned

First, whiskey, (in this case a rye whiskey) is required. This is a cocktail where the spirit stands front and center, so make sure to highlight the flavors it brings to the table.


cinnamon stick being placed into a rocks glass with ice


Because it is lightly sweetened with sugar and flavor added with bitters, this most classic of cocktails is served on ice in a rocks glass and usually garnished with an orange peel. As stated above, it’s easy to change up flavors by using different flavor syrups or bitters, or even by what liquor you use.


A sugar cube is the classic preparation with a dash of water and bitters to dissolve the sugar, but we have found that a simple syrup (a great way to add different flavors) is the easiest way to go. It mixes in well with the whiskey and doesn’t take as much time.


cinnamon stick being placed into a rocks glass with ice


Now usually chilled with a slow melting cube or ball of ice, an Old Fashioned is a full bodied cocktail.



The traditional bitters used in an Old Fashioned no longer exist, but now the usual go-to brand is Angostura, which makes for a solid drink. But, remember that hanging the bitters can definitely make interesting yet subtle variations in the flavor of this rye cocktail.


cocktail with cinnamon stick and clear ice in rocks glass, mixing glass behind


So, if you are thinking of making this and don’t have the Spiced Cocoa Tea Bitters that we used in the recipe, feel free to use Angostura if that is what you have. We also would encourage a chocolate or cinnamon bitters as a sub.


Winter Spiced Simple Syrup

We were inspired by the flavors of winter this year, and wanted to highlight them in this syrup. So, basically we added a whole bunch of stuff to a saucepan with sugar and let it simmer and pull out all the yummy flavors. We knew we wanted to use pine in this, as we have made a pine syrup before, and it was divine, so we wanted a touch of that in this syrup.


cocktail with cinnamon stick and clear ice in rocks glass, mixing glass behind


Then, we added in star anise, cinnamon and cloves, which of course are baking spices and always bring fun flavors to the party! But, then Jay added a bay leaf, and it added such an interesting flavor to this syrup that it just screamed winter to us, and we will be using bay leaves more often I think. (Not just useful for stews!)


Winter Spiced Rye Old Fashioned

So, in combining all these flavors, rye whiskey, winter spiced simple syrup, and the Spiced Cocoa Tea Bitters (or whatever you have), this Winter Spiced Rye Old Fashioned is a great sipper in front of the fire and a great way to warm up all fall and winter long!


cocktail with cinnamon stick and clear ice in rocks glass, mixing glass behind




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Like this recipe? Try these below, too!

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Winter Rye Sour


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Rye Opener Cocktail


Old Fashioned Cocktail Recipes


More Whiskey Cocktails to Enjoy This Winter


Rye Old Fashioned being poured into rocks glass from mixing glass
Yield: 1

Winter Rye Old Fashioned

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

This Winter Spiced Rye Old Fashioned is full of flavor and perfect for fall and winter sipping!


Winter Spiced Simple Syrup

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1 small pine branches (4 inches long)
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 whole cloves

Winter Spiced Rye Old Fashioned

  • 2 oz Rye Whiskey
  • .75 oz Winter Spiced Simple Syrup
  • 3 dashes Spiced Cocoa Tea Bitters


Winter Spiced Simple Syrup

  1. Combine all ingredients into saucepan and bring to a boil.
  2. Pull off of heat and let steep for 15 minutes.
  3. Strain out solids and let cool.
  4. Can be stored in the fridge up to 2 weeks.

Winter Spiced Rye Old Fashioned

  1. Combine rye, syrup and bitters in mixing glass with ice.
  2. Stir 20-25 times.
  3. Strain into rocks glass with ice.
  4. Garnish with cinnamon stick. (or orange peel, Luxardo cherry if you are feeling fancy!)
  5. Cheers!


If you don't have the Spiced Cocoa Tea Bittesrs please use chocolate bitters, or cinnamon bitters.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 210Sodium: 15mgCarbohydrates: 17.9gSugar: .1g

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Brown cocktail in rocks glass with ice, cinnamon stick being placed in


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